Insight: Ryan Villopoto

Insight: Ryan Villopoto

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By Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto crushed them again in the 450 Class at the Rockwell Watches Thunder Valley National, going 1-1 for the second straight week. After the race, Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes caught up with him—something that’s easier to do off the track than on it.

Racer X: How’d you do today? First moto was good, second moto was a decent lead, but not massive like last week.
Ryan Villopoto: It wasn’t huge…

Yeah and first moto was a battle, too, all the way.
Yeah, most of it. It was good. I had a few close moments.

I feel like this year, even when you have close moments…okay, you went off the track one time, whatever; that’s a pretty big one. But I feel like when you make mistakes you’re like, I got it, I got it, and you’re always getting them under control. Do you feel that way? Or are you like “Uh oh!”
If it’s close to a crash then obviously you do the oh, that was close. But, yeah, I made mistakes and I feel like with where we’re at right now as long as you don’t lose too much ground, I’m able to catch back up. I don’t want to say fairly easy, but within a lap or two I’m back to where I was.

When you went off the track in the first moto were you worried?
Well, at that point Dungey was still in second. Barcia was holding the pace. He was running the pace.

So is Barcia riding good? Was he riding pretty good?
Yeah, he rode good today, for sure.

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Ryan Villopoto has yet to lose a moto following another 1-1 performance.
Simon Cudby photo

Any different than last week? Last week you had bigger leads, so do you think they gained? Is it the track?
I think the track. They [Barcia and Dungey] both rode better here. I think it was good but the track was pretty rough. There wasn’t a whole lot of lines to try to go to. It made the racing kind of close at first because it wasn’t very easy to pass.

Second moto you got the lead pretty early that time, though.
Earlier, yeah. I was able to get around Dungey and Barcia again, earlier than I did the first moto.

The fact that a lead is so big one week and then this week, Dungey kept you honest in the second moto, do you care about that? Do you watch the pit board all the way to the end and, “Oh, Dungey got it from eight seconds down to six.” Does that matter?
No. The one thing about Dungey is he is a guy that no matter what that gap is he’s going to be pushing until the end. So you kind of can’t lay up or he’ll catch you off guard. And then all of a sudden he’s kind of right there. He’s the type of guy that makes you push all the way to the end.

But what I’m trying to figure out is, is this one of those deals where you walk off and you’re like, “If we can show him that we beat him by 10 seconds, that’s more confidence than if we beat him by just five seconds.” Us idiots in the media say stuff like that. Do you?
Yes and no. If I would have got the holeshot and led every lap then the lead might have been bigger. Who knows? There’s a whole lot of things that play into that. So bench racing… that’s not going to get you very far.

Hey, that’s all we do, you’re the one who actually races.
Yeah.

Steve Matthes also caught up to RV after the race.

Another 1-1 day. Really good. A couple of ballsy passes out there.
Ryan Villopoto: Where?

Coming down the hill next to Dungey, first moto.
First lap? Yeah. It was good. It would have been really good if I didn’t almost crash in this turn over here. I was happy with...up until that point. And then it set me back and I think I was third for over half the race.

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Villopoto looks for his third straight overall at Muddy Creek.
Simon Cudby photo

Track looked gnarly. It looked rough. Not as wet and rutty as last year but square-edged and dry.
No, it was rough. They’ve added a lot of sand to it. In some areas it’s good, some areas it’s bad. It kind of makes it one-lined. But the track itself was really… I don’t know about the freestyle jump, but it was good.

What’s wrong with freestyle jumps? The big quad and stuff?
Just the huge hang time. It’s a little harder to race side by side when it’s like that.

You feel as good as you ever have outdoors right now? You look, I think, better than we’ve seen you. Just domination. Do you feel better? What’s the deal?
I definitely feel good. I think the bike’s working really well. The guys at Showa and the team, we’ve been working together and making the thing working really good.

Triple air forks.
Triple air. Another one.

It looks like it works good. Happy to be going east? I think you agree with that kind of a dirt a little better. But it’s hard to beat, 1-1, 1-1?
Yeah I think so, and we’re going back to Florida now and a brand new track that’s built. That’ll be good. I think we’re in need of some good riding because California’s been terrible.

You don’t seem happy.
I am.

You destroyed the field. Good job.
Yeah, thanks. I just have a little bit of a stomach ache. It’s been a long day.

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